Thinking For The Individual

Formerly known as 'Thinking For The People', this site offers some reflections on the state of British society and her people from the perspective of a libertarian Conservative with a passionate belief in the pillars of freedom and responsibility.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

All Conservatives must unite around one common cause

I have lost count of the number of times people tell me that this country has never been so prosperous. I have lost count of the number of times people talk about money, as if the size of their bank balance or the number of carats in their golden jewels is the most fundamental measure of success. Perhaps it is because too many politicians only ever talk about money. We measure the success of a government on how much we’re earning, how much we’re paying to the Exchequer and how much is going in to the public services. Yet this is an ignorant position, because it ignores the real poverty which is crippling individuals, families and communities on a mass scale in Britain.

A Conservative Party which seeks to form a government in four or five years’ time must be ready to propose a radical programme ultimately designed to empower the poorest members of our society. We need not be afraid of giant reforms. After all, Beveridge’s Five Giants are still dangerously prevalent in our modern era, and are far more deeply rooted than they were in the forties. The poverty we must have the vision and the will to address and defeat is not simply the material poverty that the other parties talk about, but the poverty of ambition, the poverty of aspiration and the poverty of virtue too.

Traditionally, governments have come to accept the Welfare State as the best way to help the most disadvantaged in our society. Yet on the contrary, the Welfare State continues to be the biggest obstacle facing the men, women and children who must live and work in some of our society’s most despairing places. The Conservative Party has a duty to put forward a manifesto which is so radical and so visionary that when the next Conservative leader walks over the threshold of Number Ten Downing Street, he or she shall be remembered as one of the giant reformers of the twenty-first century.

The next Conservative government must focus on bringing support to the disadvantaged, the deprived and the depressed individuals, families and communities which should be a scar on the conscience of politicians everywhere to their charming, many-bedroomed abodes in their expensive Jaguars and BMWs, dressed in their nice, tailored suits.

I do not subscribe to the view that the Conservative Party is fundamentally divided. Yes, we have factions, some of which are more powerful than others. There are those who take a relaxed attitude to social change, and believe our political masters should ‘live and let live’. They support gay rights and accept lone parenthood. On the other hand, there are those who feel that the cavernous poverty of which I have written in this article is the most important challenge for the politicians of today to face up to. There are those who want the Conservative Party to focus on its core voters, by presenting a tougher line on immigration, tax cuts and zero tolerance in fighting crime.

There is a falsehood about the Conservative Party peddled by many both in and out. It is claimed that a Conservative Party which has some social changers, some poverty crusaders and some hard liners can never truly work together. This is plainly untrue. The Conservatives are absolutely some of the most decent people I know. The way to get these groups, these factions working together for a collective cause is in fact fairly simple.

We need firstly to embrace the social changers by having equal respect for all people, no matter whom they share their beds with, where they pray or how many parents are in their household. The Conservative Party has always had a deep commitment to personal privacy and liberty, so it is foolish that we should baulk at the sight of a gay couple or a single parent. We should, in truth, be the ones who are supporting the rights of all people to live a happy and fruitful life.

We must also demonstrate the utmost compassion for society’s most vulnerable people. Labour and the Liberal Democrats talk persistently about how much money people are earning, and describing the rich as people who take home more than a certain amount of money. Perhaps this is because it’s so much easier to set down in tabular form average incomes, or numbers receiving state benefits. Or perhaps it’s because they don’t have the ideas, the determination or the bottle to tackle real poverty. The Conservative Party has a unique and unparalleled opportunity to present a programme for government which would fight and destroy the drivers of despair which still haunt us today.

And finally we have those who believe that our core vote strategy should go on as it did in 2001 and 2005. They believe in fighting the creeping monster of Europe and the yob culture of modern Britain. They want lower taxes and lower spending. Those people are absolutely right to make these demands. After all, I know of few better ways to encourage hard work than to stop forcing a man or a woman on the minimum wage to hand over a vast proportion of their earnings as income tax without any question of their situation.

The Conservative Party is a broad church full of individuals and groupings who believe in a better society which is based on the principles of fairness, tolerance and acceptance. All we need to do is come together and put forward a radical vision for the next Conservative government to put into practice. It is not impossible. If the next Conservative leader can walk through Glasgow’s Easterhouse estate or along the River Mersey and proclaim a vision for modern Britain which accepts the rich diversity of our society and fights for the betterment of every man, woman and child, no matter where they come from, what they look like or who they live with, we will form the next government.


At 7:30 pm, Blogger Unni Koroth said...

I came to your blog randomly. Just pressing on next blog.

Too much to understand for an ordinary person from India

At 7:32 pm, Blogger Mark O'Brien said...

It's a little too much for its author to understand sometimes as well!!


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